*(CNN) — It’s good to be “The Woman King.” The new Sony Pictures Entertainment film starring Viola Davis as the leader of an all-female set of warriors took the No. 1 spot at the domestic box office this weekend with a surprising $19 million, according to Sony.
The film’s total is somewhat unexpected for a few reasons. For starters, it was projected to bring in closer to $12 million, so it exceeded expectations.
“The Woman King” is also an original and is not based on a previous piece of intellectual property like a sequel or superhero film. In modern-day Hollywood, to take the box office crown without being connected to a prior hit or big franchise is a rare feat.
The action drama, which cost $50 million to make, is exactly the type of success theaters need right now due to a dearth of new films for viewers to choose from.
Ever since early August, theaters have struggled to get audiences in seats since there’s not been many films. This is due to studios having supply chain issues caused by the pandemic as well as more big films skipping theaters altogether for streaming.
Yet “The Woman King,” which was directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood and co-stars Lashana Lynch and John Boyega, took advantage of strong reviews and won the weekend for Sony.
Critics and audiences showered the film with raves, leading to a 95% critics score on review site Rotten Tomatoes and a perfect A+ CinemaScore from ticket buyers.
Brian Lowry, CNN’s media critic, called it a “throwback to the action movies of old while featuring people who were seldom allowed to occupy prominent roles back then.”
“Although ‘inspired by true events,’ ” Lowry noted, the film “clearly isn’t tethered to them, using the underlying story of 19th-century female warriors in an African kingdom as the jumping-off point for a rousing action vehicle augmented by plenty of melodrama. That combination yields a strong showcase for the stars, featuring a cast and backdrop that serves to refresh its old-school formula.”
This could just be the start of a strong run for the film.
With few notable movies coming to theaters until early November, “The Woman King” could continue to find an audience and rack up sales at the ticket booth.
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